November 10, 2015 6:51:21 pm
The world-famous Kaziranga National Park on Tuesday added a new feature to it, this being a clinic for captive elephants, named after well-known conservationist Mark Shand, who was a brand ambassador for Kaziranga till he passed away in April last year.
Part of the Kaziranga Discovery Park that is being developed by Wildlife Trust of India in collaboration with the state forest department in the vicinity of the most important rhino sanctuary, the Mark Shand Memorial Learning Centre will exclusively deal with health-related problems of captive elephants.
Assam, which together with the rest of the Northeastern states is home to about 5,000 wild elephants, also has about 1,500 captive elephants, most of which have been sitting idle since the Supreme Court had banned tree felling in the Northeast. There are about 100 captive elephants, both government-owned and privately-owned in and around Kaziranga, some engaged in wildlife protection work, some for conducting elephant safari during the tourism season.
Inaugurating the Centre at Panbari in Kaziranga, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, founding patron of the UK-based charity called Elephant Family said dedicating an elephant clinic in the name of Mark Shand itself was a historic moment for the global conservation movement.
“Mark was an energetic and dynamic personality who believed in lending a helping hand to animals. Today is a great day for me to inaugurate this facility for elephants,” he said. Mark Shand, who was closely associated with captive elephants in and around Kaziranga, would regularly attend a gathering of mahouts at the end of every tourist season. He had also written ‘Queen of the Elephants’ – a book on internationally acclaimed elephant trainer Parbati, which had also later become a BBC documentary.
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